In Caddyshack one of Rodney Dangerfield’s much-loved lines is, “Now, I know why tigers eat their young.” He’s speaking of Judge Smails’ disagreeable grandson Spalding (I want a hamburger. No, cheeseburger. I want a hot dog. I want a milkshake. I want potato chips.) but could be referring to the Richmond Football Club, for this club has a tradition of enthusiastically self-devouring.
Regardless, there’s still universal affection for them. Who can hate the Tigers? Hands up if you’ve had or heard the following conversation:
“So who’s your second team?”
“They’re just a likable team, and never cause anyone harm.”
“Yeah, exactly. And how great was Richo?”
“Yep. And they’ve got the best song.”
“Oh, mate. Easily the best song.”
Adelaide’s Tom Lynch is a late withdrawal because he didn’t complete a late withdrawal, and he’s flown home to attend the birth of his child. Richmond’s Griggs gets the first goal, but it’s reviewed to generate some theatrical tension for the assembled unwashed, but quickly confirmed.
It’s frantic, but like the front bar of a sailors’ pub in the last hour of shore leave, it’s untidy. Adelaide’s early skill is awful. Finally, we string some disposals together. Sloane receives it wide, settles and goals. Milera impresses with his efficiency. He moves well, has excellent awareness, and dare I say it, shows the poise of a young Andrew McLeod.
With their long kicking indoor footy should suit the Crows, and we witness this when Sloane and Walker transport it the length of the ground with two huge dobs. Adelaide’s now applying pressure and Betts claims Houli in the pocket. He goes back and sets up. Has there been a better shot at goal from a pocket? He slots it. Eddie’s kicking is now so widely celebrated that a footwear retailer should be named in his honour. Twice.
Jarrod Lyons get one for us late, and resolves the age-old dilemma. Despite the inter-continental impossibility, a Lyon indeed, defeats a tiger. New Crow McGovern shows composure to also goal. I’m starting to relax.
Adelaide are direct like a Mt Isa publican, and gaining confidence. Douglas gets his second. Following a corridor turnover, Sam Lloyd records a goal, but almost immediately after a Tiger disaster allows Lyons to get Adelaide’s seventh from turnovers. Richmond deals with the pressure like a drummer auditioning for Spinal Tap.
Seedsman’s proving to be the best thing Collingwood has given the Crows. Ever. Or at least, since the Magpies guaranteed the Crows a 2015 finals campaign by beating Geelong in the penultimate round.
Vickery gets one to give the home side consecutive majors. Then, suddenly the Tigers control everything, and like the William Blake poem, are burning bright within the Dockland’s forests. Against the Tiger-ish mood, the Crows force a midfield error and gift Jenkins a late goal. After a mammoth thirty-four minute, twelve goal quarter, it’s half time.
Today the Barossa and Light Bowls Association First Division grand final is between Eudunda and my Dad’s team, the Nuriootpa Tigers. Like Hawthorn Nuriootpa’s after four flags in a row. Unlike Hawthorn, most of the planet is not hoping for Nuriootpa to fail fabulously.
To open the second half Seedsman takes an excellent defensive mark, and Adelaide quickly moves it the length. In time when he gets the ball I hope the crowd yells, “Seeeeed” to belatedly continue the Wayne Weidemann of Fish Creek tradition.
Richmond persist, but unmethodically. Talia and Reiwoldt are having a tussle. The ill-fated Vickery takes another solid grab, but like an angry lumberjack, bangs it into the woodwork. Rory “Bruce” Laird is cultivating productively, and streaming forward, Ed and Tex (coming soon to your local RSL) again combine.
Sam Lloyd takes a screamer and converts to keep the Tigers within five goals, which history tells us, is not nearly enough for the tricolours. Briskly developing Crow Milera weaves exquisitely around some seemingly extinct Tigers and finds Walker.
Tex looks about uninterestedly, ignores all, saunters back, and bombs it straight into the stand from sixty-five out. Despite the doom merchants this, and other cracking moments, speak to me of the robust and enduring health of our great game.
Now, the Tigers game plan appears less certain than Tony Abbott becoming honorary President of the Onion Farmers’ Association (OFA). But like Tony, Richmond don’t disappear as they should, and with another burst, get three rapid goals.
However, Adelaide asserts itself during the final term to keep the Tigers caged. Shane Edwards gets one after the final hooter, but it’s ninth prize in a chook raffle.
Tigers, if you think about it, are everywhere. On their terrific album Daisies of the Galaxy American band Eels have a wonderfully upbeat song about imminent doom, which I delicately suggest, is most appropriate for Richmond. The Esso petrol-inspired “Tiger in my Tank” could be sung by any of the Punt Road faithful
I bought some rock star ashes
From the back of Rolling Stone
I guess he wouldn’t mind it
They couldn’t sell his soul
The tiger in my tank
Is going to go extinct
And I’m not feelin’ so good myself
I think I’m on the brink of disaster
Well done to my Dad who played in his umpteenth decider, but fell just short of winning his twelfth bowls pennant. So, enjoy your evening. Whatever you do to celebrate or commiserate, can I advise you, on the back of three years in Singapore, to not have any Tiger beer? You’ll be pleased you did. And it’s goodnight from my lounge room.